Toward Quality Mental Health Services in Canada: A Comparison of Performance Indicators across 5 Provinces


Relevant, accurate and timely performance information is critical for improving performance of health systems. Despite enhanced activity in health data reporting in Canada, there remains a pressing need to develop and report on mental health performance measures that can be compared across the country.

In 2015, the Graham Boeckh Foundation and its partners sponsored the Centre for Applied Research in Mental Health & Addiction (CARMHA) at Simon Fraser University to lead a pan-Canadian initiative in mental health performance measurement. To do this work, CARMHA assembled an alliance of researchers, data analysts, and service leads in five provinces: British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario and Qu├ębec.

The overall purpose of the project was to test the feasibility of creating and reporting on a small number of mental health and addictions performance indicators that can be compared across the provinces. The team developed and generated the measures using existing health administrative data. The six indicators are:

  • Access to the same family physician for people diagnosed with a mental disorder or addiction.
  • First treatment contact for a mental disorder or addiction is in an emergency department.
  • Physician follow-up after hospital discharge for a mental disorder or addiction.
  • Rates of suicide attempts among people diagnosed with a mental disorder or addiction.
  • Suicide rates among people diagnosed with a mental disorder or addiction.
  • Mortality of people diagnosed with a mental disorder or addiction.

The Summary Report provides a summary of the project including background information, comparative results by province, and key findings on the feasibility questions.

The Technical Report provides detailed information about the indicator specifications, definitions, calculations, and results.  

Project Sponsors:

  • Graham Boeckh Foundation (Lead Sponsor)
  • Echo Foundation
  • Mental Health Commission of Canada
  • Ontario Mental Health Foundation
  • RBC Foundation
  • Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research
  • In-kind support was provided by the Canadian Institute for Health Information

Amanda Butler,
Carol Adair,
Wayne Jones,
Paul Kurdyak,
Simone Vigod,
Mark Smith,
Alain Lesage,
James Bolton,
Nawaf Madi,
Jitender Sareen,
Murray Enns,
Louis Rochette,
Katherine Rittenbach,
Erik Youngson,
Steven Clelland,
Marni Bercov,
Maria Santana,
Elliot Goldner